Althouse | category: gender politics



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"[S]ome conservatives, unable or unwilling to adopt the type of horny-bro aesthetic that embraces sports, sex and generally letting 'you do you'..."

"... have resorted to a paint-by-numbers anti-feminism. Conservative women are hot, The Federalist says! Single women are pathetic cat ladies, too ugly to love, say two actual members of Congress! It’s a strange interpretation of masculinity, as if learned from old issues of Maxim and a particularly bitter next-door neighbor.... [I]t seems as if attracting the horny bro to the Republican Party is increasingly more important than sating the conservative, particularly when it comes to getting voters. When the Bang Girls (of Bang Energy drinks) threw cash at conservative teenagers at a Turning Point USA youth conference in 2020, some elders argued that it was embarrassing and deplorable, far removed from 'conservatism.' But one Twitter user [said]... perhaps the message was actually incredibly effective: 'hot women and money. Being conservative will help you achieve those things. that’s what it has to do with it, that is the implication. Join us and get those things.' William F. Buckley would be horrified. Hugh Hefner would be proud."

"4B is shorthand for four Korean words that all start with bi-, or 'no'..."

"The first no, bihon, is the refusal of heterosexual marriage. Bichulsan is the refusal of childbirth, biyeonae is saying no to dating, and bisekseu is the rejection of heterosexual sexual relationships. It is both an ideological stance and a lifestyle, and many women I spoke to extend their boycott to nearly all the men in their lives, including distancing themselves from male friends.... For Youngmi and many others who subscribe to its basic premises, 4B, or 'practicing bihon,' is the only path by which a Korean woman today can live autonomously. In their view, Korean men are essentially beyond redemption, and Korean culture, on the whole, is hopelessly patriarchal.... While 4B’s adherents may hope to change society — through demonstrations and online activism, and by modeling an alternative lifestyle to other women — they are not trying to change the men whom they view as their oppressors.... Even young women who are not members of the movement echo that they could not imagine dating or marrying a Korean man...." 
In December [2016], as Korea’s fertility rate hovered at 1.2 births per woman (it has since slid to 0.78, the lowest in the world), the Korean government launched an online “National Birth Map” that showed the number of women of reproductive age in each municipality, illustrating just what it expected of its female citizens....
Women were outraged by the map, observing that the government appeared to consider them “livestock”... Several... digital feminists responded with a boycott to the reproductive labor expected by the state and decided that the surest way to avoid pregnancy was to avoid men altogether. It was through these online communities that 4B emerged as a slogan, and ultimately a movement.... 
Like any social movement, 4B has its own internal rifts and divisions: Can 4B women be friends with men? With women who still want to date men? Does lesbianism privatize relationships, destroy feminist solidarity, and resexualize women, or is it a necessary foundation for a world without men?

A quote from one women: “I don’t need to try being a lesbian, because in political lesbianism, I can just be a person, like a normal person — a human being. I can be in a safe place.... Always, when I use the word ‘safe place,’ it means the place for women.”

Political lesbianism.

"Efforts by the ruling Communist Party to raise fertility rates — by permitting all couples to have two children in 2016, then three in 2021..."

"... have struggled to gain traction. The new policy in Sichuan drew widespread attention because it essentially disregards birth limits altogether.... In most parts of China, single mothers are denied the government benefits offered to married couples. Until recently, some provinces had even imposed fines on unmarried women who gave birth. But the baby shortage has prompted provinces like Sichuan to start legally recognizing children born to single mothers, part of a Communist Party push toward more 'inclusive' population policies.... But the obstacles for women... go far beyond compensation.... 'What many women, especially single mothers, lack is not money, but the protection of their rights and the respect of society'...."

"Does the world really need another older White woman (and I say this as an older White woman) speaking on behalf of communities we are not a part of?"

"What more than two decades ago would have been considered the well-intentioned act of sharing a substantial platform now feels a bit like inserting an unnecessary middleman (or woman) into the mix."

"YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki will step down after nearly a decade... leaving all of the major social media and entertainment platforms in the management of men."

WaPo reports.
It was in Wojcicki’s Silicon Valley garage that Larry Page and Sergey Brin began building the search giant. Brin later married her sister, and Wojcicki stayed with the company, rising through the ranks and holding a number of major roles before being appointed head of YouTube in 2014.Wojcicki was seen by many Google employees as more or less a member of Brin and Page’s family....

So that was never a very encouraging sign of the ability of women to rise to power in Silicon Valley. 

Over the years, Wojcicki... faced scrutiny over how YouTube handled problematic content. During her tenure, activists and regulators around the world criticized the company for allowing hate speech, misinformation and conspiracy theories.... Wojcicki... made the decision, along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, to ban Donald Trump from YouTube after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. When Facebook said earlier this year that it would rescind its ban on Trump, the focus swung to whether YouTube would do the same. YouTube’s ban remains, for now.

Because Mieko Kawakami’s novels "look squarely at the times she is living through, with an emphasis on gender and class"...

... the NYT Magazine writer thinks "Western readers may once more be ready for contemporary Japanese fiction that embraces the magic of realism itself."

What is meant by "once more"? Did something happen to us "Western readers" that alienated us from realism when it comes to work by Japanese writers? Well, that's actually the article writer's idea:
For nearly three decades, [the] chief emissary [of contemporary Japanese literature in translation] abroad has been Haruki Murakami, whose American influences and penchant for late-20th-century nostalgia and magical realism obscure whatever genuine insights he might offer foreign readers about life in Japan today. 
The middle-class malaise of Murakami’s protagonists, who are more likely to speak with cats than to have uncomfortable conversations about late rent with their landlord’s wife, is largely absent from Kawakami’s work. That she has found success abroad through novels that look squarely at the times she is living through, with an emphasis on gender and class, suggests that Western readers may once more be ready for contemporary Japanese fiction that embraces the magic of realism itself.... 

Personally, I find the idea of more "emphasis on gender and class" tiresome. This is the refreshing new approach?! And then gratuitously kicking Murakami around? Is that really necessary? There's no reason why one person needs to occupy a position called Japanese "emissary." Anyone can read whatever books they want written by authors from anywhere.

One writer's use of fantasy doesn't prevent another writer from sticking to what is (supposedly) realistic. (Is it "realism" to use the gender-and-class template?)

It's certainly not realism to suggest that Murakami always uses fantasy. I know the article writer hedges by saying "more likely to speak with cats," etc., and I think that's because he knows Murakami's most popular book — "Norwegian Wood" — doesn't have fantasy elements. 

Toward the end of the review, there's also this about Murakami:

Among Kawakami’s more surprising influences is the work of Haruki Murakami, who has praised her work as “breathtaking” and called her a “genius” and his favorite young author but has also been criticized for writing women as one-dimensional characters who can seem as though they exist for no reason beyond advancing the plot.

What an awkward statement! The article-writer has it in for Murakami. 

For Kawakami, though, his novels provided a model for how to think about the individual. “No parents, no family, no soporific preaching, none of the self-conscious struggles or triumphs so common in literature,” she would later write in an essay. “For me, bogged down by situations and circumstances I had never opted into, Murakami’s individualism was shocking.”

This isn’t to say that Kawakami does not differ from Murakami in terms of how she thinks about female characters.

Perplexing double negative there.  

When he made himself available for a series of rare public appearances with Kawakami, including a 2017 Q. and A., she broached the obvious incongruity of their mutual admiration by telling him, “It’s common for my female friends to say to me, ‘If you love Haruki Murakami’s work so much, how do you justify his portrayal of women?’” 
Kawakami chose to highlight an example from his 2017 novel, “Killing Commendatore,” in which a woman introduces herself to the narrator by asking what he thinks of her breasts. Murakami responded by saying this was the woman’s way of suggesting that she viewed the narrator as a kind of eunuch; for Kawakami, though, it seemed like a way of fashioning herself into a sexual object for no obvious reason or benefit.

It's a 500-page novel, but let's fixate on the woman's breasts and try to figure out what they mean. Look squarely!

Policing the "overcalculated playfulness" of actors wearing fashions that might not align with their sexual orientation.

I'm reading "Is Celebrity ‘Queer Baiting’ Really Such a Crime? Even as gender and masculinity are more fluid than ever, it can still rankle when male stars co-opt traditionally gay codes and styles" by Mark Harris (NYT Style Magazine).

[Q]ueer baiting... is a celebrity culture term referring to performers and artists who slyly imply, whether by action, remark or passing behavior, that they might not be a hundred percent heterosexual in order to court an L.G.B.T.Q. audience, but are actually either straight or, at the very least, determined not to get specific. 
For those who make the accusation of queer baiting, the argument against opportunism is simple: How dare you reach into our pockets and take our money when you’re only pretending to be one of us (or, in any case, when you’re not telling us who you are)?... 
Overcalculated playfulness about the subject can come off as a kind of self-marketing....

This sounds like vigilance about who gets to make money off of sexual orientation, but generally, in life, the money doesn't flow to the artists who are the most authentic exemplars of the experience that is the subject matter of their expression. Actors can be rather blank and empty individuals who go into the profession precisely because they need roles to fill them up. Don't be jealous of them when the role they play is something that you believe you really are. If you object to the money they make, playing the character who you really are, you don't understand performance. Or — admit it! — you want their money.

The article author, Mark Harris, goes on to examine the discrepancy between the criticism of "queer baiting" and the Gen Z view of sexuality that (supposedly!) asserts: “You can be anything you want to be.”

Today, younger people who use “L.G.B.T.” or its longer variants do so primarily as shorthand for a range of options, from asexual to pansexual to questioning to intersex to trans-masc to bi-curious, among theoretically limitless other possibilities, the embrace of any one of which does not have to be a permanent thing....

Notice how subtly Harris seems to acknowledge gender-reassignment surgery. The "embrace" of an "option" is permanent. But this is in the NYT fashion magazine. A great thing about fashion is that it's not permanent. You put things on and you take them off. You experiment. You laugh at mistakes and throw them away. You may not be an actor, but you get to play a role.

You can try on an identity, and maybe someone will say what you're wearing is "so you." Maybe you'll think of yourself in a new way because of that color, that style.

Maybe you'll feel braver. Or maybe you'll feel intimidated at the thought of some sour-faced creature who will sneer at you and mutter something along the lines of: "The clothing of my people is not a costume! We cannot put it on and take it off as a whimsical experiment! Your jacket is a microaggression!"

Harris writes that the Gen Z position is "Nothing matters more than authenticity. There is no qualification for an artist greater than lived experience."

Is that really their position? I don't know. But if it is, I'll stand back. These are kids, and they need to grow up. They need some time to question their own authenticity and the slipperiness of the demand for authenticity. They need to enrich their "lived experience" with the experience of the work of great artists and to see that the artists are not talking about life they have specifically lived — lived authentically. They are imagining far more life than they can personally live.

Back to Harris:

What we know about an artist’s personal identity can be interesting and even illuminating; what we are entitled to know is … nothing, basically.

I agree. And maybe we're better off knowing nothing, nothing other than the art.


By the way, before I undertook to read this article and based solely on the headline, I searched the page for "Rolling Stones" and "Mick Jagger." Nothing! (No Prince either.) Where's the historical perspective? These kids today! 

It's a propaganda postcard, but what is it propaganda for?

It's a propaganda postcard, but what is it propaganda for?

The postcard, from circa 1904-1915, is supposed to cause you to oppose giving women the right to vote. 

The biggest theme in the comments there is best expressed here:
The propaganda is working. Now I want a suffragette girlfriend.
Others on that theme:
You drive a hard bargain. But I'm buying whatever you're selling.

Was that supposed to be against the[m]?

Don't threaten me with a good time!


Yes please 
I see their point but am dismayed that they are not more vigilant about the sexualization of children. But the poster is... asking for it. The artist had to know what he as doing. It's too good. 

But I want to explore a secondary theme, expressed in this comment:
There’s something upsetting but also hilarious about this “If women get the vote, they’ll automatically become your supreme overlords” fearmongering. I saw some Spanish right winger the other day saying very seriously on an interview that we can't give political power to women because sexism exists for a reason. We'd only fuck when they want, he said. He argued that that's such a powerful tool of mind control that they'll become our overlords in no time if we supported the si es si 'yes means yes' law we recently passed in Spain; the law defines consent so rapists don't get away with it, btw. 
The thing is that it didn't feel like propaganda to me. It seemed like the guy truly believed what he was saying. Made me think. Like, wtf. If that's how they think, then it makes sense they defend sexism so bad. It's natural too that I defend feminism so bad, given there's people like that out there.

Or, as another commenter puts it: 

"What chance has a mere manchild"

There's no decent, ethical argument against equal rights for women. The argument — evident in both of those Reddit themes — is that men's minds are so subordinated to their sex drive that women must be subordinated because if they are given equality they will easily and naturally rise to dominance. It's an argument written in nature: The best chance at equality is male dominance. What an awful argument! But that is the argument, put clearly and bluntly. 

"Sam Smith has expressed their disappointment that women have been snubbed from the gender-neutral category at the BRITs this year."

"No women are nominated for Artist of the Year at next month's ceremony, which has sparked fury among music fans. The BRITs changed their format last year to remove the gendered awards, which Adele issued a jibe at as she picked up its first ever non-gendered gong. While Sam welcomed the axing of the gendered awards - which came some years after they came out as non-binary - the Gloria hitmaker has branded the lack of female talent celebrated in the category 'frustrating.'"

The Mirror reports.

If Adele won last year, what's the problem? Why should music be divided into male and female?

Here's Sam Smith singing "Gloria" on "Saturday Night Live" 2 days ago: 


Somehow, somebody decided they needed a woman's body sprawled out in the foreground while Smith sang, and somehow that body ended up being Sharon Stone.

The hell? What's progressive? It's totally retrograde.

She's all lit up and the singers are in the shadows and black cloaked. For a while, you wonder, where's Sam Smith? Finally, maybe 2 minutes in, Smith emerges and is lit up, but Stone is still in the foreground, she's more lit up, and she rises and emotes for the camera.

How did this happen, and how do they explain the gender politics of this mess? And by "they," I mean everyone involved, not just "they," Sam Smith.  

(Speaking of last Saturday's "SNL," I recommend the sketch "The Black Lotus" to anyone who's seen the new season of "The White Lotus." The impersonations are especially good.)

ADDED: My question "Why should music be divided into male and female?" needs to be a poll. Check multiple options if you want (and put any additional ideas in the comments).

Why should music awards have different categories for male and female? free polls

PLUS: I realize I left out the most important reason for having separate categories: Because our response to music is itself gendered, so the nomination process is inherently biased. You need 2 categories to eliminate the effect of known and accepted bias. This bias is not a problem. It's nothing we need to rise above. Our own emotions — our sexual feelings — are a necessary part ofthe appreciation of music. 

All my life, I have preferred to listen to male singers. Spotify's list of my "Top Songs 2022" is 100% male. That's not a problem. That's my nervous system doing its thing. I'm glad I'm alive. I'm glad I have feelings like this. There's nothing to overcome. It the way sex works and the way music works. 

I'm not saying all heterosexual women prefer to listen to male singers. I remember having a discussion about this with my sister long ago, some time in the 60s when her favorite singers were female and mine were, as I've said, male. She said it was because she liked boys and they were singing about boys. I said but I want the boy singing to me, not these rival girls going on about their boy.

Either way, it's highly gendered. Whether it's a love song or not, music has a sexual dimension. Those who make decisions about nominees and winners are themselves sexual beings — male, female, nonbinary, gay, straight, etc. etc. It doesn't matter what they are: They are necessarily biased. So keep the 2 categories so this positive aspect of music is channeled properly.

They don't need to change everything to accommodate the more complexly gendered participants like Sam Smith. Let Smith designate which of the 2 categories Smith wants to compete in. That's enough respectful deference. 
It's a propaganda postcard, but what is it propaganda for?"Sam Smith has expressed their disappointment that women have been snubbed from the gender-neutral category at the BRITs this year."

Report "Althouse"

Are you sure you want to report this post for ?